Doing the same things day after day is fine, as long as your habits push you to be your most productive and healthy self. But many people don’t examine how they spend their minutes to see if their routines are helpful or harmful in terms of getting to the next level. Not so with high achievers–they understand the necessity of being intentional with every bit of the day. Here are the simple daily habits nearly three dozen successful entrepreneurs and executives rely on to be at their very best.
1. Use the Golden Rule.
— John Beaver, EVP and CFO of Biolase, Inc., a dental laser company which has sold more than 38,200 lasers in over 90 countries
2. Take time to be mindful.
“This can be reading, meditating [or] praying. Take these moments to be thankful for all we have and it can serve as fuel to move you forward.”
— Eyal Barad, cofounder and CEO of Cannabics Pharmaceuticals, a U.S public company developing a platform leveraging novel drug-screening tools and AI to create cannabinoid-based therapies for cancer that are precise to a patient’s profile
3. Eliminate chaos by staying proactively organized.
— Nate Kelly, CEO of Adero, a new tracking technology brand born from what used to be TrackR which recently received $10 million in funding
4. Act with agility and simplicity.
“Our world is becoming more and more complex with new technologies and digital resources at our fingertips but what I’ve found to be the most helpful is simplifying how we communicate with team members in order to drive meaningful change and innovation. We follow what is called a small tent strategy where we encourage working in small groups which helps us to make decisions quickly. As an entrepreneur, I know the importance of keeping things as simple as possible, not only to stay agile but to keep improving and transforming our business quickly.”
— Laurent Uberti, cofounder, president and CEO of Sitel Group, a nearly $2 billion global company with 75,000 employees across 27 countries dedicated to customer experience management for its 400-plus clients around the world
5. Own your schedule.
“I truly believe that if one is not in control of their schedule and priorities, then others will determine what it should be and what they decide might not be very pleasant. So, whether it is your meeting calendar, daily or weekly goals, projects, or your weekend plans, if you are not taking charge of them then either you will have to accept what is being planned on your behalf or get frustrated. This doesn’t mean that you should have disregard for input, but I believe that you should take ownership and proactive action. Success comes to those who do not just plan well but execute with the same rigor.”
— Monu Kalsi, VP of marketing for Stericycle where he directs all aspects of marketing, digital, brand, and analytics for a $3 billion B2B services business in North America
6. Slow down to wake up.
— Cameron Conaway, director of marketing communications at Solace, an advanced event broker technology company that’s moving data for six out of the 10 world’s largest investment banks and helping to connect over 450 million citizens in India
7. Find your creativity.
“In the tech industry, what often sets people apart is their level of creativity. Therefore, every morning I do two things that help me think in a more creative, fresh way. First I exercise, which for me is very meditative and helps me reset for the day. Afterward, my attention and concentration are heightened which goes in hand with my second-morning habit, reading business-related books and articles with my breakfast. I find that these readings help me find new concepts that inspire me and also help me think through ideas in new and different ways. These habits provide me with a little extra motivational boost that has helped me grow and has made me into a more effective leader.”
— Arvind Raichur, CEO of MrOwl, a Community Interest Engine that has gone from just a few thousand users to more than 400,000 and is averaging over one million mobile sessions a month
8. Write it down.
— Deborah Conrad, chief marketing officer at Grand Rounds, a healthcare navigation tool that connects more than 4.2 million people to high-quality care
9. Have a dog in your office.
“We have welcomed Tobias, a rescue Pomeranian, as an office companion for years. Now more employees have realized the emotional and health benefits of having a canine companion at work. This not only helps the dog and its owner mental and physical health but also everyone in the workplace. Meetings, office visits and the workday are all brightened by our furry friends.”
— Dr. Art Papier, founder and CEO of VisualDx, a diagnostic clinical decision support system that has become the standard electronic resource at more than half of U.S. medical schools and more than 1,500 hospitals and institutions nationwide
10. Set a routine and stick to it.
“Whether I’m traveling or in the office, I always try to stick to a routine that keeps me focused and allows me to engage in the things I love. When I’m home, my routine is to wake up, take my longevity supplements, get a cup coffee and enjoy my daughter as much as I can before she goes to school. After a day at the office, I cap off my day with a 20 kilometer mountain bike to keep me active and clear my head to be fully there when I’m home and not still in the office. Keeping a routine when traveling can be challenging, so when I do travel my only routine is to find the place that cooks the best eggs royale in town, so far the best place is in Paris.”
— Claudio Erba, CEO of Docebo, an AI-enabled learning platform company used by more than 6 million people at 1,500 organizations in over 90 countries
11. Walk around with your head up.
“We walk through life with our heads down, busy and engaged. I like to watch for things to appreciate both natural and man-made. It builds an appreciation for the wonder of this world and the creativity of people doing good work. It is humbling, encouraging and centering for me. Look up!”
— Jeff Gilbert, cofounder and CEO of SEP, a software product design and development firm serving clients ranging from Fortune 100 to scale-up companies
12. Focus on one goal.
“An avid participant in IRONMAN triathlons, I’m required to wake up early to train during the week. Instead of letting my focus wander, I identify and focus one Wildly Important Goal (The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Sean Covey) for the day. By the time I get to the office, I’ve already trained for hours and am fully charged with ideas of how I’m going to accomplish the goal before I get distracted by the whirlwind.”
— Steve Iskander, chief growth officer at DriverReach, a digital, mobile-first applicant tracking system that helps recruiters manage the CDL driver application process, where he grew revenue at the company by 40 percent each month in 2018
13. Wake up to an old-fashioned alarm clock and drink black coffee.
— Russ Perry, founder of Design Pickle, a cloud-based graphic design platform he launched in 2015 and is on pace to reach $10 million in revenue in 2018
14. Clear your inbox every day.
“Communicate with everyone, regardless of any silly notions of hierarchy, and give them the respect they all deserve. I clear my inbox every day. If someone has taken the time to reach out to me, I want them to know that I appreciate their time and acknowledge whatever the conversation holds. This is a difficult task, as I need to wake up early each morning and set multiple times aside to go through my inbox each day, but it’s worth it. My team knows that I am available and willing to help improve our work each day.”
— Phil Tee, cofounder and CEO of Moogsoft, a provider of artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps), and serial entrepreneur, inventor, and expert in IT service assurance, a category he was instrumental in shaping through his invention of Netcool (acquired by IBM) nearly 25 years ago
15. Practice integrity.
–Tom Scott, VP of business development, consumer products of Fortegra Financial Corporation, an international specialty insurance holding company and subsidiary of Tiptree Inc. which recently expanded its services to Malta
16. Say thank you.
“In running a startup technology company, it is easy to get caught up in data, delivery dates, and roadblocks. Tackling must-do items can create a cycle of constant urgency and fatigue. The more I work with high-performing teams, the more I realize the value of taking the time to celebrate the little things each day. A simple ‘thank you’, a ‘Happy Place’ Slack channel, and random outbursts of excitement not only make employees and teams feel good but build a culture of gratitude.”
— Christine McDonnell, cofounder and CEO of Codelicious, a SaaS company that builds and licenses full semester, comprehensive-skills building computer science curriculum for elementary and middle schools and a 2018 MIRA award winner for Tech Service of the Year
17. Always filter what you can and can’t control.
— Chris DuPont, CEO of Galen Data, a medical device cloud connectivity platform that helps medical device manufacturers capture and leverage their device data by providing analytics, alerts, visualization, and the processing power of cloud computing which has raised three quarters of a million dollars in funding to date
18. Give your brain a rest through brain candy.
“Sometimes, the noise in our lives reaches a fevered pitch and the idea of calm seems a thousand miles away. This is when I turn to my stable of brain candy. Brain candy is anything that I can interact with that has the side benefit of quieting the rest of my mind. Like regular candy, you can’t live on brain candy, but it definitely helps calm the noise. For me, it can be a podcast that serves no purpose but carries me away somewhere, a television show that brings me in or even rocking out to music that would definitely embarrass your kids, but makes you dance wherever you are. Everyone has brain candy, and none of us should be afraid or embarrassed to use it.”
— Caitlin Coffman, CEO of MomentPath, formerly, a software management platform that connects child and senior caregivers with the families of those in their care which has raised more than a million dollars in funding to date
19. Keep your mission in mind.
“Stephen Covey once said, ‘The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.’ which is easier said than done. So easily our days can be derailed with small emergencies or grand problems that seem fun to solve. I found this is the quickest way to lose sight of my larger goals and create windows of idle, unproductive time that won’t drive success personally or in my company. By starting each week with the defined task at hand and circling back to it daily, I ensure that I, along with my team, continue to climb the mountain that we’ve set our sites. No one wants to lose a teammate in a crevasse for days due to lack of focus and direction. This daily refocusing allows for greater growth and creativity because a team focused on a common goal will strive to accomplish it in the best possible way. Making sure you continue to center yourself and your team is what sets the great teams apart from the good ones.”
— Darren Bounds, founder and CEO of Breezy HR, an applicant tracking system that which this year grew its user base by more than 150 percent, revenue 230 percent, with over 70,000 jobs posted
20. Spend 20 minutes at the end of the day reflecting and planning.
“I wake up at 5:20 a.m. every day and spend the first hour to read and learn something new. This gives me a great start for the day. I finish my day with 20 minutes of reflection and planning. For the first 10 minutes I reflect on the day and the goals I wanted to achieve. The second 10 minutes is spent planning the next day and the top two goals. It has helped me not only to prioritize but also stay focused and get more done in less time.”
— Hari Shetty, founder and CEO of Jifflenow, a meeting automation platform that has automated the scheduling, management, and analysis of meetings for hundreds of enterprises including more than 50 Fortune 1000 companies
21. Challenge yourself physically and mentally.
— Itay Rosenfeld, CEO of Voxbone, a provider of Communications-as-a-Service (CaaS), who has quintupled the company’s revenue since joining in 2012
22. Stop multi-tasking and be fully engaged.
“I can’t multi-task so I’ve embraced the power of full engagement. If I’m on a call, I’m on video really paying attention. If we are in a meeting I’m 100 percent there, not checking my phone. If I’m on the road I maximize time with the team, customers, prospects during breakfast, lunch and dinner. This means if I’m not with you, your email can wait…and if I don’t need to respond I don’t. If I don’t plan to pay full attention on a call, why I am attending? People appreciate that you give them your full attention and you get more high-quality work done, create meaningful relationships, and have a lot more fun.”
— Latane Conant, CMO of 6sense, a predictive intelligence engine for marketing and sales who was instrumental in aligning sales and marketing in her previous position as CMO of Appirio, resulting in five-fold more effective field marketing programs and increased inbound leads by 300 percent
23. Commit to avoiding the word “but.”
— Matt Kunkel, CEO of LogicGate, a cloud-based governance, risk management, and compliance software solution that raised $7.5 million in its Series A funding round in July of 2018
24. Hear the other side.
“When you work with a group of passionate people, it’s easy to run into situations where you have dueling opinions. I found a great practice is to take a moment, consider you are likely wrong, assume good intentions, and hear the other side. This may not take very long, but generally results in higher quality decisions, a more balanced view of the world, and a more motivated team. As we work daily to solve a massive problem we personally don’t have, this level of empathy is critical.”
— Mark Heynen, cofounder and chief business officer of PayJoy, a consumer finance company operating in 10 countries
25. Take care of the temple.
“Work can be stressful and days are often unpredictable. The chances that your day gets rewritten from your original intent is at least 50/50. For this reason I try to take care of myself, mind and body, first thing in the morning. I meditate as soon as I wake up–even before I look at my phone–then I hit the gym. While this requires a slightly earlier wake up call, it absolutely starts the day on the right foot.”
— Steven C. Toy, general manager at Apalon, a global app developer with over 40 unique apps across the iOS, Android and Samsung platforms and over 190 million downloads
26. Create reminders for infrequent or mundane tasks.
“Don’t waste brainpower trying to remember dates or tasks that aren’t important to you. In today’s world, it’s easy to set up reminders to stay on top of monthly or infrequent tasks. That way, you can be present for those things that matter, and let the reminders kick in for the things that don’t.”
— Steve Shivers, cofounder and CEO of doxo, a web and mobile bill payment solution that makes it easy for consumers to pay more than 45,000 billers in one place
27. Make dinner at home.
“Making dinner after I get home from work allows me to turn off my brain from thinking about what’s in my email and allows me to focus on something tactile. It allows for me to be creative in a simple way and also gives me something to look forward to during the day. Most importantly it gives me time to spend time with my family and clears my head so I am refreshed to get back to work.”
— Kevin Grosch, CEO of Made In Network, a video-first media company that garners more than 70 million views a month working with consumer brands including Salt Life, JTV and AMG/Parade